by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
He’s not the front-runner; White House chief of staff Jack Lew holds that distinction. (Lew’s is the largest photo at right.) But former Clinton-era chief of staff and former UNC system president Erskine Bowles (shown next to Lew) has been mentioned as a potential successor to Timothy Geithner as U.S. treasury secretary. Jim McTague offers the following assessment of Bowles in the latest Barron’s.
Another potential candidate is Erskine Bowles, a Clinton Democrat who had been the co-chairman of the president’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform back in 2010, along with Republican Alan Simpson, the former Wyoming senator.
The commission did produce a fiscal road map — the Simpson-Bowles plan — which didn’t pass muster with enough of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress to be formally adopted. But the proposal, which calls for higher taxes and entitlement reform, retained a certain cachet with centrists from both political parties. It’s viewed today as a starting point for serious negotiations.
Bowles, who long ago was an investment banker, served as Clinton’s chief of staff. He has the financial knowledge and political skills needed for the Treasury job.